Celebrity chimp shot dead by police

Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 00:00

FOR YEARS, Travis had been a local celebrity in his home town of Stamford, Connecticut.

He featured often on TV adverts, and would pose for photographs while performing his favourite tricks: tucking into a filet mignon, dressing himself or using a computer.

However, on Monday the pet chimpanzee went berserk, savaging a friend of his owner’s before turning on a police officer, who shot him in self-defence.

Aged 14 and weighing 90 kilos (200lbs), Travis had been brought up to all intents and purposes as a human.

His 70-year-old owner, Sandra Herold, who had raised him since he was an infant, trained him to water the flowers, drink wine, brush his teeth and watch sports. “He loves baseball. He likes anything with action,” she once told an interviewer.

He also appeared in adverts for Coca-Cola and Old Navy clothing.

Though Travis had no record of violence, he had escaped once before – an event that only added to his fame as he held up the traffic for hours.

On Monday, though, there was no joviality. The animal had been behaving oddly, and Ms Herold had tried to calm him with tea laced with a sedative.

But he grabbed her keys and let himself out of the back door, then started banging on cars as though signalling that he wanted to go for a drive.

Worried, Ms Herold called her friend Charla Nash for help. As soon as the neighbour arrived, Travis attacked her, mauling her and biting her face.

Ms Herold tried to save her friend by attacking her beloved pet with a kitchen knife, but Travis then went on to attack a police officer in his car.

The officer, fearing for his own life, shot several times. Travis limped away as a dozen police cars arrived.

Officers traced the animal by its trail of blood, and found him dead, back in his cage.

– ( Guardianservice)